Strategies for Drinking Alcohol While Losing Weight

When I have conversations about weight loss with women at any age—30’s, 40’s and 50’s, the topic of alcohol frequently comes up.

One thing I like to tell women is that alcohol is metabolized differently than other foods and beverages. The digestive process changes when alcohol is present because alcohol gets immediate attention. It's viewed by the body as a toxin and doesn’t need to be digested.

When the body is focused on processing alcohol, it is not able to properly break down foods containing carbohydrates and fat so those calories are converted into body fat and are carried away for permanent storage in your body.

Low doses of alcohol appear to reduce the risk of heart attacks and certain strokes. Larger amounts increase the risk of many health problems such as liver disease, high blood pressure, behavioral problems, and premature death. But women face an extra risk: Even low doses of alcohol can raise their risk of breast cancer.

Don’t Sabotage Your Weight Loss Efforts

Strategies for including alcohol without sabotaging your weight loss efforts.

Quantity is Make or Break

Probably the most important consideration is quantity. One glass of many types of alcoholic beverages is usually ok. It's the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th glass that takes total calories out of the weight loss range, and more likely into the weight maintenance or even weight gain range.

Lower Calorie Options

Lower calorie alcohol choices include wine and hard liquor. Wine contains 20 calories per ounce, so there are 100 calories per 5 ounce glass. This is reasonable for a weight loss diet. Just stick with only one glass and 5 ounces or less. The number of calories in hard liquor depend on the proof, so 100 proof liquor contains 125 calories, and 80 proof liquor contains 100 calories. If drinking beer, try a lower calorie, light alternative.

Mixers Beware

Added mixers, syrups, soda pop, and tonic are the culprits that really boost the calories. Try soda water, diet soda, or a fresh squeeze of lemon or lime.

Opt Out on Mixer

Skip the mixer altogether. Try ordering your favorite spirit or one of the new flavored liquors on the rocks. Infused vodkas are very popular because they're not sweetened rather infused with flavors, from jalapeno to peach, which doesn’t add any extra calories.

Pass on Liqueurs

Limit high-calorie liqueurs. These are extremely deceptive (they taste so good) and will add enormously to overall calorie content.

Inhibitions Drop

Keep healthy food on hand when drinking. Drinking will relax the inhibitions and cause one to compromise their nutritional habits.

Include Water To Slow the Pace

Drink water between alcoholic drinks. This will help to slow the pace of quantity consumed and also increase feelings of fullness and may help to prevent over consumption of alcohol. Water will also keep your hydrated.

What strategies do you when you want to imbibe while losing weight?

In Health and Happiness,

Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods



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